Relationships can, at times, be all-consuming — especially if you live together or spend the majority of your time in each other's worlds. Spending quality time with your partner is important for a healthy and happy relationship, but time for self-reflection is just as important.
Even if you’ve been with your partner for years and are really happy, every so often it helps to check in with yourself and ask some questions about your relationship.
Reflecting on your relationship doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative light, but as an act of self-compassion and a step towards understanding how you both fit together, and whether you’re still supporting each other.
“Developing insight into ourselves, our behaviors, our hopes, and dreams, and also the issues we need to work on, is what creates successful partnerships,” explains relationship psychotherapist Charisse Cooke. “Often it is a lack of self-awareness and accountability that creates a lot of problems in relationships.”
Not sure where to start? Here are 10 relationship questions for couples.
Nothing’s worse than pretending to be someone else with the person you’re hoping to spend the rest of your life with. Be honest with yourself: does your partner bring out the best parts of you, or do they make you feel like you need to act differently when you’re around them?
This sort of self-reflection and honesty can be challenging, especially if you’re in love or have strong ties with your partner, but listen to your gut and be true to yourself.
From learning about what makes you passionate, angry, or annoyed — understanding each other's personalities is core to longevity in a relationship.
When you argue, does your partner try to understand your point of view, or are they totally dismissive? When you’re talking passionately about something, do they ask questions and try to understand what makes you tick? Do you do the same for your partner?
Learning to understand each other requires patience, but it also gives you the gift of being seen for who you are and what you need.
Laughter or a great sense of humor can be the perfect antidote to relieve the stress or upheaval of tough times. Do you have banter with your partner, inside jokes, or do they help you relax by seeing the funny side of situations? Or, do they miss the joke and make situations more stressful?
Research shows that having a sense of humor isn’t sufficient for lasting relationship satisfaction — it’s the ability to create a “shared” humor together that really counts.
Shared humor generates unique bonding moments in a couple. An artfully delivered inside joke can bring levity to tense interactions; a funny memory can help you focus on strengths when times are tough.
Plus, shared humor provides a sense of emotional security, a feeling that the future will be cheerful… no wonder it’s considered such a desired quality in romantic partners.
We’ve all heard the saying “opposites attract”, but is it true? Can a couple sustain a relationship if they have different interests? Yes, they can!
“Having different interests is common in healthy relationships. Compatibility and shared values are far more significant when it comes to the overall happiness couples experience,” Cooke says. “In fact, having different interests allows a variety of social opportunities, friendships, and talking points for a couple, which can maintain the relationship’s vitality.”
If you’re both willing to compromise and be part of each other's worlds, having different interests can bring you together, rather than apart. However, if your partner has no interest in your views or hobbies, that’s where the problems could start.
Trust is one of the key ingredients to a healthy relationship — without it, it can lead to arguments, jealousy, and relationships breaking down.
Various studies have shown how important trust is, including Dr. Terri Orbuch’s landmark study in which researchers asked the happiest couples to name their most important relationship expectation. A whopping 92% of the men and 96% of the women answered: “You should feel that your partner would never hurt or deceive you.” In other words, there has to be trust for a relationship to work.
Psychologists and social scientists alike have found that people tend to attract their spending opposite, yet the happiest couples are those who spend money similarly, whether that is saving or indulging.
“Money and finance are one of the top subjects couples fight about. It’s rare to have the same views on finances in a partnership, but the ability to communicate, compromise and negotiate is what will stand the pair in good stead,” Cooke says.
“Money is seldom about money, so it’s also useful to explore with each other what money symbolizes to them and the history from one another’s pasts, to understand the meaning behind certain viewpoints,” she adds.
There’s nothing better than your partner being your biggest cheerleader. Whether it’s listening to your work presentation for the 20th time or giving you the thumbs up for cooking a great meal, it feels nice to be supported.
Research has also found that receiving emotional support from a partner is linked to a more positive mood and less anxiety and depression.
But remember that it works both ways, so start tooting their horn too whenever you can.
Your partner should be your best friend and be there for you, meaning you can tell them your deepest darkest fears, and they won’t judge you. “Openness and honesty is the great gift of a healthy relationship,” Cooke explains.
“Many of us have trust issues or fears that can prevent us from being completely open and honest,” she says.
“However, it can be something to strive towards, as this is the most healing and transformative way to get genuinely close to someone and for love to thrive."
Core values are sets of principles we live by — they influence how we treat others and respond to situations.
“When sharing our lives with a partner, differing values can be the source of huge stress and misunderstanding,” explains Cooke.
“However, believing fundamentally in the same things allows for common goals, compatibility, cooperation, and the greatest chance of a sense of fulfillment.”
None of us are happy 100% of the time, and relationships can be hard work, so it’s not a matter of fleeing at the first sign of an argument. But if you’re finding yourself miserable when you spend time with them, constantly having petty arguments, or not looking forward to spending time with them, it may be time to reassess whether you have a future together.